Monday, April 4, 2016

Two Rivers Marathon (Saturday) Laxawaxen, PA, 3/26/16

The Two Rivers Marathon held on Saturday March 26, 2016 was the Pennsylvania State
Championship Marathon. I am not really sure what that means since I am not from PA, but I was excited to race it regardless.

Kim and I drove to the start race day morning. She was just barely over having a very bad cold or flu or something that was really terrible for a week. She wasn't sure if she was going to race, but this was one of the races we actually prepared for. After all that work it seemed like a shame to not run if she felt she would be ok to try.We were driving up race day morning. The night before she decided to give it a shot. She could stop at the half finish if she felt terrible.

photo by Stephanie Ruzicka
We left just after 6 am for the 2 hour drive. We hoped to arrive around 8:00 am to catch the 8:15 bus from the finish to the start. But on the way to the race, we were delayed by a horrific accident. It was bad. At first, when it seemed like we would be stuck in traffic at 6:20 am, I was anxious that we would miss the race. But as we passed the incident and I could see what was causing the hold up, making it to the race stopped seeming so important. I said, "Well if we don't make it we can just go out for breakfast somewhere." I looked for news reports about the accident the next day, still wondering what happened, and found nothing at all. 

We arrived at 8:10 for an 8:15 bus, that really didn't leave until after 8:20. We got to the starting area at 8:38, managed to get our bibs and find the bathroom. I change my clothes from capris and long sleeves into shorts, calf sleeves, and a t-shirt and I was still over dressed. We sucked down some gu, rushed to the start, labeled our gear (white garbage) bags as people lined up, and threw our bags into the back of someone's car just as they were getting ready to send off runners.   

We quickly found Antonio in the starting area.  Just as I was in mid-sentence suddenly everyone is running.  I didn't even hear a signal to go.  I am lucky my shoes were tied.  However my calf sleeves were not in place and this felt really uncomfortable.   

About a half mile into this race, I just could not take the awkward calf sleeve situation and pulled over to pull them up. I start running again and realized my shoe lace was actually NOT tied either. I need to stop again at .98 miles to fix that. Oh boy, this is not going well. 

I jump back and mile 2 is a blazing fast descent. It feel so great to run!  I am running a 6:59 pace and it feels so easy.  We flatten out and I settle right down to 8 minute pace. I find a comfortable flow and enjoy the course. The descent did tear up the bottom of my left foot but that did not seem to be a problem until the last few miles. But by then everything hurts. 

My back is pain free. I feel like I can run forever. After 5 miles, I realize my average pace is the same pace as my 20k last weekend. I know this is just a result of the fast descent. I hoped to target an 8:15 for this to get a solid BQ. So far so good! 

Mile 5-6 is fast and I thought about Kim and Antonio. I hoped they were working together to pull each other. 

Mile 7.7 starts a short but very steep uphill, but the real climb comes between 8 and 9.  The climb is really only about .3 miles long but it is tough. 

At this point a boisterous pack of runners catch me. A younger woman is running with two guys. They have a third guy on a bike taking care of all their needs. There was a little mini-bus that was traveling the course that seemed to have her family in it as well. They start to pass me on the uphill, but on the decline I end up back with them. We are running the same pace for about 2.5 miles.  Everyone in this group is very nice. She was trying to BQ. The guys were there to help her. This was her first marathon. We were running 8:00 pace. They were so thrilled for her. 

It seemed like a lot going was on in that pack. I did not envy her. I can only imagine the amount of pressure she had on her to run well with everyone around her making such a big deal about her race. There is also the matter of whether or not all of this outside support was even legal, but there were course marshals and volunteers on the course making sure runners were not turning back too soon. Not one seemed to care about the outside aid and the pacing.  

Antonio running in behind Kim hopefully yelling things like
"You are almost there, You are a winner!" (as he promised to do)
 as she finished her race. ;) 
At about the half way point, this group was pulling away from me and I was happy to let them go. The course would become 7 miles of incline out to a turn around. I wished her luck. I knew their pace was too fast for me on the way out.  I hoped to be able to catch them on the way back.

I spent the next 7 miles watching them slowly pull away before they started to come back to me.  I knew she would not BQ because I wasn't sure I was going to BQ any more either. The day was warming up and the miles were catching up with me.  At mile 16, I dropped my gel, right as I approached and aid station. I had to go back for it. As I tried to bend down to pick it up I grumbled something and noticed the aid station guys laughing at me.  LOL!

Just like every year I run this race, I forgot at what mile to expect the turn out. A guy coming back to me called out "Turn around is at 18.65!"  That really helped me out!  Thank you!  I passed that information on to others on my way back.

On my way to 18, saw one woman crushing the race, and then in second was the young girl and her crew.  I was in 3rd.  We had a downhill for the next 7 miles and felt great because I took the incline easy.

Just after mile 19, I passed them.  When I pass in a race, I want to do it with some semblance of authority. I want to put some distance between me and whoever I am passing. It turns out that she was not having a great experience so this wasn't hard to do. I felt badly for her. 

Even thought this was the Pennsylvania State Championship Marathon, it was a small event without a lot of competition.  Regardless of pace or place, I was simply thrilled to have no back pain!  Any day I can run pain-free is a gift. 

I tried to open my stride after mile 22 and I could feel spasming in my groin. Seriously!  But since getting my mileage back into 20+ mile runs, I have had some groin straining happening now and then.  I stopped at Caumsett because my groin pain started to flair up at 18 miles, but here at 22 I was almost done. I wasn't stopping now. I shortened my stride, slowed my pace and just did my best to finish it off without aggravating my groin any further.  I am sure my groin is tired due to me now being heavier than I have ever been in a very very long time.  Since my back pain started I have not been able to train like I used to and gained about 7-8 pounds. This is a lot of weight for me. I am not thrilled about it, but now that I can run again, I expect to get leaner by the fall.  

Other than the groin spasming, I felt great! Sure, my feet were tired and blistered and I could not wait to get out of my shoes. Due to the slow pace, those last 4 miles felt like 100 miles.  But my mood was great! :) 

Kim always has a great finish!
As I rounded the last turn, I saw Antonio waiting to cheer me into the finish.  He asked how I felt.  I know this is loaded topic for Antonio.  This poor guy was training with me when my back first started to fall apart.  He witnessed my demise first hand.  In fact it was on a 10 mile run with him when he actually said "Do I need to call someone to get you" that I decided to make my first doctor's appointment. I would train with him in the morning and suffered from back spasms. But then I would train with his wife in the evening and have no pain at all.  He was convinced he was bad luck to me. (see Antonio, it was never you).

After I crossed the line and gather my faculties, I asked Antonio how he did and he set a huge half marathon PR!  This was so great the hear. I knew he was ready!  

A few minutes later Kim came in, finishing strong as she usually does. I am glad she ran this. For a sick chick, she did great! 

Time: 3:43:40 (8:32)
Gender Place 2nd Female 
AG: 1st Place 

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